The Changing Face of Music Discovery Social Media Week Panel 2011
1980 marked the moment of my musical transformation when I was a freshman in high school. I went from listening to AOR (album oriented rock on the FM dial) to seeking out amazing new rock/alternative music that was being broadcast from college radio which expanded my record collection to include The Talking Heads, Gang of Four, The Ramones, Elvis Costello, and The Specials to name a few. College radio was the filter that exposed me to all this new music. So how does someone (with the infinite world of the internet) go about seeking out new music today?
I attended “Guided by Voices… The Changing Face of Music Discovery” during Social Media Week 2011 that featured Doug Brod from SPIN Magazine, Elliot Aronow from RCRD LBL, Tim Heineke from Shuffler.fm, Bill Pearis from music blog Brooklyn Vegan, and DJ Nick Catchdubs. The panel was moderated by Brenna Ehrlich of Mashable.
Doug started off the panel announcing that SPIN magazine will launch an iPad app called SPIN Play offering more than sixty music song streams and original video shot in the SPIN offices such as bands performing live and interviews. This app enables the reader to listen to live and recorded music of the artists they are reading about.
The panelists were asked how they go about finding/discovering new music and Doug replied that he receives a lot of music every week and since there are only six people on the editorial staff it makes it very difficult to listen to it all. Doug also felt that there is no real a and r anymore at record labels so blogs serve in that role. Tim follows music blogs and DJ’s he likes. Bill catches live shows, gets music sent to him and goes to record stores.
When asked how do you find artists in the mass of the internet? Nick replied that no one has time for general interest music. People want someone to say, “This is the best genre of…” or, “Since you like to listen to this artist/band you would probably like…” Nick felt that some music is not supposed to break through as it is designed for the underground. Elliott felt that there is nothing like the older television shows such as 120 minutes or Yo! MTV Raps anymore which served as a taste maker and found things from the underground.
When asked what challenges there are in getting through to people in the digital age Nick replied that when he goes to iTunes he avoids the Feature page as he feels that is an advertisement from labels that simply have purchased the space. Nick craves the character Barry from the movie High Fidelity the music snob record store employee but values his opinion and recommendations for music. Tim frequents a few record stores that provide a trusted source for recommendations as well and he needs a stream of recommendation from people not an algorithm.
So what are the trade-offs finding music by an algorithm versus finding music from people? Elliott replied that having access to everything is not so great. Pitchfork has a recommendation of five things a day which is great for him because you are not hit with one million choices. For Bill he goes to a blog that suggests one band/song a day and is a more personalized filter.
So how has terrestrial radio fared through all this? Nick feels that radio is still the most accessible medium for exposure, but of you are trying to discover something new you better be listening to HOT 97 after 1 a.m. Elliott replied that college radio has been dying but an emerging music space is music blogs.
You can follow Doug Brod on Twitter @DougBrod.
You can follow Elliot Aronow on Twitter @youngelz.
You can follow Tim Heineke on Twitter @timheineke.
You can follow DJ Nick Catchdubs on Twitter @catchdini.